Example of Oil Spill Contingency Plan

1. Introduction

Oil spills can arise from a number of different sources ranging from small operational spills like overloading tanks and burst hoses to the most serious such as a catastrophic failure in a large tanker’s hull integrity due to a collision or grounding. There are also other non operational sources such as urban runoff and natural seepage. However this oil spill contingency plan will be dealing with the former sources of pollution. Without doubt the most crucial aspect of dealing with any emergency is to be prepared. However, unlike most emergencies that occur with little warning, but are over in a relatively short period of time, an oil spill incident can also occur with little warning, but may extend for weeks, months or even years.

Therefore planning for oil spills must not only look at the immediate tactical response and managing the immediate aftermath but must be prepared to cater for a much lengthier tactical response and must have a more strategic view with regard to an aftermath that may extend for years. It is extremely important, also to ensure that your planning process is not done in isolation but includes all of those constituents who would be affected by the oil spill. Any company either large or small operates in a public working environment met an incident, depending on the consequences there will be an explosion of impacts on the operating environment. Major oil spills in the tank farm area of the complex can generate technical, legal and public relations problems for the organization. The best way to handle oil spills is to prevent their occurrence. Good housekeeping, adequate equipment maintenance and strict adherence to proper operation procedures are the best insurance against oil spills.

If, in spite of the best care, accidental spills do occur, they will require immediate coordination of most of the departments of the organization and perhaps, the assistance of outside agencies too. This oil spills preparedness plan is designed to help company personnel to respond quickly and effectively to the problems presented by accidental spills.  Its primary goal is to limit, as far as practicable, damage to property (inside and outside the refinery) and ecology from such a spill.

The major oil spill in the plant can occur due to major failures, fires or tank ruptures. Such type of oil spill may possibly result in release of oil, which extends beyond the property limits of the plant.  This situation may further be aggravated as channels are connected to sea. The oil spills, if not properly controlled, can result into loss of oil to sea. In the event of -Tank rupture, spilled oil will get accumulated inside the dyke walls and may overflow to open storm water channels. In case oil spill takes place large amount of oil may be carried away to sea via open storm water channel or due to overflowing of separator.

2. Standard Reference For Classification Of Oil Spill Types

To avoid communication problems, ensure uniform references which will help to decide   the use of proper equipment and methods for response, the following classifications &  category will be used.  

 There are 3 types of oil spill classifications as below:

  • Tier 1 oil spill
  • Tier 2 oil spill
  • Tier 3 oil spill

2.1 Category

  1. Persistent
  2. Non-Persistent

Category 1 refers to Persistent Oil and includes

  1. Crude oil
  2. Fuel oil
  3. Marine Diesel Oil (Heavy Diesel Oil)
  4. Lubricating oil.
  5. Used lubricating oil

Category 2 – refers to Non-Persistent Oils and includes

  1. Gasoline
  2. Jet and Aviation Fuels Solvents Middle Distillates.

3. Tier Definitions

 These levels or response tiers are defined according to:

  • the type and quantity of oil split
  • the potential impact on the environment
  • potential media and public interest in the incident
  • the amount and source of resources deployed
  • the levels of support and higher level management activated

The three tiers of oil spills  are described below:

TierDescriptionNominal  Volumes
1Minor spill< 1000 Ltr
2Medium spill<10,000 Ltr
3Major spill> 10,000 Ltr

It should always be borne in mind that designating tiers to oil spills is for planning purpose only. When an oil spill occurs whether it is a small or a large release there are number of other complicated and sensitive factors that will determine the impact of the spill and could influence the scale of response to the spill.

3.1 Tier 1 Contingency Plan

A Tier one plan should be prepared to cover the risk of a small local spill occurring due to normal operations within the facility operated. Examples of such spills are ruptures of oil transfer hoses, tank overloading or valve leakage where the period of uncontrolled flow of oil can be quickly curtailed resulting in a spill of a relatively small amount. However just because the spill size is small it does not lessen the need for a quick and effective response. Statistics will show that there is a greater number of Tier One type spills than any other and unless they are dealt with effectively they can have a more chronic effect on the immediate environment than any other category of spill. The response to a tier one spill should be immediate if not then at least within the first hour of the spill taking place.

   3.2 Tier Two Contingency Plan

The Tier Two plan will cover those types of medium or moderate oil spill incidents at a company facility where the company has limited control over events and the physical size of the spill or the effect of its impact is beyond the scope of the Tier One response capability. In this case a company will know that the Tier One response capability is not sufficient and that it requires further resources as quickly as possible to supplement its Tier One resources. The line drawn between Tier Two and Tier Three is never clear therefore it is important to ensure that a Tier Two plan can be simply escalated into a Tier Three plan. Always remember that one man’s Tier Two incident is another man’s Tier Three. For instance a company may well consider an incident within the Tier Two response capability but the media and environmental lobby may push the event into the Tier Three category by raising the profile and speculating on the consequences.

   3.3 Tier Three Contingency Plan

The Tier Three plan is the ultimate plan to respond to a spill of catastrophic proportions. Normally this will consist of a plan drawn up by a government to protect the national interest. Reason being since only governments can draw upon massive resources like the military that would be required in the event of a catastrophic spill. Governments can also commandeer resources from the public and private sectors as well as legislating for emergency powers. Examples of the types of incidents covered by such a plan would be catastrophic failure of a tanker’s hull integrity causing a major if not total release of the oil cargo or bunkers. This is normally due to a collision and subsequent foundering of the vessel or grounding.

  4. Oil Spill Response Team

Company Oil Spill Response Team (OSRT) undertakes the responses to all Tier 1 oil spills at Plant site

  Figure 4.1 lists the personnel who are assigned to each of the key roles.

 5.0  Spill Assessment And Monitoring

  5.1 General

An accurate estimation of spill volumes, and the type of oil split is essential if an appropriate level of response is to be mobilized and effective strategies and equipment used.  A preliminary assessment is done by the IC but is unlikely to be entirely accurate.  A follow up assessment of the spill is therefore required.  However, the size of an oil slick and the nature of the oil are not constant.  Weathering processes act to either increase or decrease slick volumes and, generally, the viscosity of oil will increase over time.  This has implications for the effectiveness of spill response strategies. Ongoing surveillance and assessment of the spill is required.

5.2  Preliminary Spill Assessment

The preliminary assessment of an oil spill is to be undertaken by the IC.  The Oil spill parameters should be recorded.

5.2.1 Voulume

Estimates of spill volumes can often be made on the basis of the cause of the spill and the duration of the spill event. 

5.2.2 Oil Type

The type of oil spilt should be recorded.  It is important to differentiate between spills of waste Lube Oil oils or refined product.  Spillages of refined volatile product present distinct risks to human health and safety.

5.2.3  Nature of the Incident

Information regarding the cause of the spill can be important in:

  • Determining whether there is, or is likely to be, a threat to human health and safety;
  • Calculating the volume, or potential volume, of a spill.

5.3 Continuing Assessment

For any spill requiring a Response, continuing surveillance of the slick is required. 

5.4 Spill Prediction

Predicting the movement and behavior of an oil slick may be undertaken using manual calculations.

5.5 Oil Behavior

The volume, and area of a slick, and the character of the oil will change in time. 

Estimates of slick area are seldom accurately predicted.  These are best estimated by observation.

6.0 Immediate  Response

6.1 Introduction

The preferred response action, in all oil spills, is to contain and recover oil from the Surface. The Incident Controller (IC) will consult with the Plant Site Officer (PSO) to determine the nature of any Immediate Response within Plant site

6.2 Measures to be employed

In the event of an oil spill on the land surface the following measures should be employed according to the circumstances of the spill and conditions prevailing:

  • If possible prevent, control or stop the outflow or release of the oil from the source
  • If possible contain the spread of oil

The importance of human health and safety in any response operation cannot be over stressed.

6.3 Overall Protection Priorities including the protection for neighbors

Protection priorities to be employed during a response to an oil spill are, in order of descending priority:

  • Human health and safety
  • Habitat and cultural resources
  • Rare and/or endangered flora and fauna
  • Commercial resources
  • Amenities.

However, in assessing protection priorities, it is necessary to maintain a balanced view of the potential success of particular response strategies.  

6.4 Incident Reporting and Response Activation

Notification of a pollution incident will normally be made by:

  • Those responsible for the incident 
  • Government Agencies
  • Aircraft flying over the spill
  • The public/ neighbors. 

It is important that the information received be reported without delay to enable immediate and appropriate action to be taken. Pollution reports from the polluter may prove to be imprecise, often conservative.  All efforts should be made to validate the quantity to better planning and decision making. The response procedures that shall be followed are summarized in Figure 6.1.

                  Figure 6.1 -Typical Response Procedure

6.5 Oil Spill Clean-up strategy

Our clean-up strategy for a potential oil spill depends on many factors such as weather conditions and type of oil. The abatement strategies are as follows:

  • Mechanical recovery: consists in removing the oil from the surface of the land mechanically by using pump.
  • Cleaning the surface of land by spreading soil and by using cloth.


 7.1 General

The Waste Materials Coordinator is responsible for developing and implementing a Waste Management Strategy for each spill. Once recovered from the land surface, oil will be either:

  • Pumped directly for storage in holding tanks;
  • Placed in temporary holding tanks, drums or lined pits;
  •    Held in temporary, bunded, piles, (if solid).

7.1 Priorities

The Waste Management Strategy should ensure that:

  • Oil and oily debris is adequately treated and stored at the point of collection;
  • Oil and oily debris is rapidly collected and taken to designated sites for storage, treatment or disposal;
  • Treatment or disposal practices ensure that the waste poses no future threat to the environment.
  • A number of options are available.  The preferred options are (in order of preference):
  • Recovery and recycling of materials;

7.2 Transport

The Waste Management Coordinator is responsible for the mobilization of transport vehicles if it is required to transferred oil spill material to other place for storage.

7.3 Storage

Liquid oil or oily water can be stored in tank & processed in Oil re-refining plant.

8.0 Response Termination

8.1  Responsibility For Terminating The Response

The Incident Controller is responsible for terminating oil spill Response. However, permission to stand down must be obtained from the General Manager facility.

8.2  Stand Down Procedures

Response personnel may be located in a number of areas.  It is essential that all appropriate coordinators, managers and officers are informed that the response activities are being terminated and that all personnel are informed as quickly as possible.

8.3   Assessment Of Spill Response Activities

It is the responsibility of the (IC) to ensure that all field reports are completed and submitted to the Manager.

The IC is responsible for ensuring that all reports, logs etc., are compiled and for the preparation of a Summary Report to the Manager

Such a report should address:

  1. Spill causes;
  2. Spill response;
  3. speed
  4. operation
  5. effectiveness
  6. Equipment suitability;
  7. Familiarity of spill response team members with roles and responsibilities;
  8. Integration of plan and procedures with other response agencies.

Where appropriate the report will make recommendations for improving performance.

8.5  Post Spill Monitoring

The Preliminary oil spill recovery record should be mentioned in oil spill and recovery register. In this register should have mentioned spill quantity and recovery quantity in storage tanks.

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